I am going to miss Bart Scott.
Scott's release was expected as the Green & White had to make a number of moves to get under the salary cap and the Jets weakside linebacker was reportedly set to make close to $7 million in base salary next year. He will turn 33 in August and the former college safety's best running days are behind him.
"I feel like everything happens for a reason and people cross because God intended them to cross. I ended up here because God intended for me to be here," Scott told me after Hurricane Sandy hit this region. "Even when I'm done playing here, I will continue to do everything I've done here because this is a part of my life, this is a part of my history. Between Baltimore and New York and Detroit, I'm always going to be in the community helping those places because those are places that affected me and my family and places that embraced me."
In today's NFL, offenses attack by putting explosive players in space. Scott is a power defender who is at his best in a phone booth. To me though, the Madbacker was always more Superman than Clark Kent.
Scott was a very good player, an excellent teammate and a great representation of the organization in the community.
When the Jets signed Scott to a lucrative free agent deal in 2009, Rex Ryan acquired a tone-setter who helped implement his system. A natural leader, Scott embraced his role as coach on the field and was more than happy to blow up a lead-blocker so another player could make a tackle. Sure Scott ripped into tight ends and fullbacks, but he also delivered vicious licks on the 300-pound linemen.
If someone mentions stats in regard to Scott, they have already missed the point. The camera was never on No. 57 when he was doing the dirty work. Sometimes he guessed wrong on a read or got beat in coverage, but he was a quality performer for all four years.
"You get your swagger by being really confident in what you do," he told me.
Scott was respected and liked in the locker room. He spent a lot of time mentoring younger players and there used to be the viewings of Monday Night Football at his place. Whenever one of his 'mates had a community event, Scott made his way there. And he made professional football practices fun with his boyhood charm.
"You can hear Bart a mile away and he gives it to the offensive players every time they make a mistake," said ILB David Harris. "It's just funny to hear because you know he's back comfortable and being himself. When you're comfortable being yourself, you're able to go out there and play the way you know how to play."
Off the field, Scott was smart, funny and humble. When we launched "Barking with Bart" four years ago, he selected a different charity every week to give proceeds to. Scott also launched his "Can't Wait" clothing line and used funds from those sales to help fund the medical care for former Rutgers player Eric LeGrand. Every Thanksgiving, Scott found a needy location to help his fellow man. Scott was never uncomfortable either because he sought out people, seemingly gaining in strength with each additional relationship.
Bart is a friend. Passionate about life, he brought energy to the room. He listened and genuinely cared. He loved to debate and to laugh. Yes he could be challenging with bouts of moodiness and chippiness. But even during those moments, you still embraced him because he was authentic and real. A proud father, he always glowed around the Holidays and after taking his kids down to Atlantis for memorable trips.
While growing up in Detroit back in the Eighties and Nineties, Scott was in Motown for the "boom" of the crack era. The environment wasn't easy, but it produced a tough man.
"I remember I had a middle school classmate get shot nine times. Who's shooting a 12-year-old? But that was life in Detroit. You just tried to stay positive, work hard and find your way out," he once told me. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't grow up that way. It hardened me, it prepared me for life and how cold life is even now in the business world. I can't fear anyone on the field if I made it out of what I made it out of. This is nothing to me — this is a vacation to me."
There are no tears to be shed for Scott on this day. Instead I choose to celebrate his time here with the Jets. It was a hell of a run Bart. Give me fifty-three No. 57s any Sunday and damn that would be a special team. Thanks for the memories Madbacker. You are all heart.